Bone Tomahawk (2015)

You often hear people say ‘It wasn’t like that in my day!’, ‘Things were so much simpler back then’, or my personal favourite ‘You could leave your doors unlocked!’
Well firstly, which ‘then’ are we referring to? The then when women couldn’t vote, when racial segregation was de rigour, when gays could be imprisoned for being open about their preferences, when Mickey Rooney was allowed to play an Asian character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
I mean, there is so much to choose from, right?
And yes, things were so simple back then! You did as you were told, didn’t question the rules or religious beliefs that were imposed on them, and every one was so content with that.’ Every one’ being the middle to upper class white male, I’m guessing …
Women were seen and not heard, much like the children, no one would bat an eyelid if your wife was given a firm hand in the shape of a fist, and rape in marriage was unheard of in law. Honour and Obey right?
Single unwed mothers were social pariahs, depression/homosexuality/death of husband/domestic troubles/anxiety/reversal of circumstances/epilepsy .. would get you sent to Bedlam, mental illness wasn’t so much treated, as shoe’d under the carpet or sent to get a fix all lobotomy. There was the wild west in America, where lawlessness was king, or when the white man came and raped the natives, took their land, and made them fit into a Jesus worshipping little hole just how they like their indigenous folk.
There were no paedophiles, no crime, and even thieves and murderers had a code of honour by all accounts … No I’m not buying any of it either, but people sure do like to rewrite the past don’t they?
Donald Trump has age and not a lot else but he bangs on about those good old days and ‘making America great again’. Tell me Donald when was it great? When your pimp grand daddy first came over from Ireland? During the lynchings? During the slave trades, the civil war or this ‘brave’ new America where people think that the orange, hamster wigged, imbecile makes enough sense to be voted into the control of nuclear weapons? I mean this guy is a billionaire and yet cannot buy an educated thought, never mind a decent hair piece, yet people are willing to put their trust in a total idiot to run their country.
I mean our Prime Minister stuck his penis in a dead pig’s mouth, and is essentially a rat in a people suit; so I mean, no one is bragging about how intelligent our voters are either, but they all tell the same sort of lies about their own vision of our futures in the end.

My point being that every era has it’s issues, and things sure can look rosy when you’re viewing them from a distance, and if that wonderful vista is viewed from an million dollar tower bearing your name, surrounded by ‘Yes men’ and imported brides, then reality is never going to be your strong suit.
Bone Tomahawk is a horror/thriller set in the good old Wild West. When a young woman is kidnapped by a tribe of cannibalistic troglodytes, her injured husband and what constitutes the law of the town go on a rescue mission, not knowing what kind of dangers lay in wait for them.
This is a film in the true spirit of both the western and the horror. Suspenseful, glossy, and with a deadpan humour that, juxtaposed with the savage brutality and violence Rob Zombie would be proud of, makes for a hell of a watch. Seventies exploitation meets the classic western formula, coupled with the A List cast that includes Kurt freaking Russell, David Arquette, and a cameo by Captain Spaulding himself Sid Haig, everything about Bone Tomahawk screams class.
With the micro budget it began with this was a movie that drew an amazing cast purely with it’s solid, intelligent scripting, attracting actors who wanted it to be made, and helped make it reality; proving you don’t need big budgets to pull off something that is sure to be a cult favourite.
Both intelligent horror, and savage western, this is a film that offers something new with every viewing, and is already an all time favourite film of mine. It isn’t just scares for the sake of it, but a compulsive watch from the opening credits. This is what true great film is all about.
A bloody good watch with a healthy splattering of blood.
You will not be disappointed in the little horror that could.

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Starry Eyes (2014)

Hollywood should be about talent, originality, and hard work. We’d like to think that the makers of our favourite films and binge watching addictions choose the projects because of their merit, the actors because of their performances, and everyone is treated with equality and respect; regardless of gender or looks.
We all know that is not how it works, though. Women, as with nearly every other industry, are paid much less than their male counterparts, the work dries up as they get older, while men become more bankable as their body of work grows. If they are beautiful, women are romantic interests, bitter ex partners, or femme fatales, while the less attractive actors, become comic relief, quirky sidekicks, or bit parts for most of their careers. It’s hard to get a break, because though their acting abilities may be spectacular, they don’t fit a certain look, or are pigeon holed as a character actor because they don’t resemble a Disney drawing, all doe eyed and jail bait looking.
Girls of twenty something are so often, romantically paired with men old enough to be their fathers, while women paired with male actors in similar situations, are portrayed as man eaters or MILFS.
Racial, cultural, gender, physical, sexual and religious stereotypes are rife in media, and propagate these assumptions whether negative or positive, into the world around them.
Physically, the media portrays such unobtainable images of men and women that no real person, could ever live up to. Plastic surgeons and therapists owe most of their bank balances to the victims of being simply average. Or worse: less than.
And yet, fame is such a lure to so many. Some people will do anything to be seen. To have your face photo shopped, blemish free and toothy white,  onto the front page of a magazine, to have their name on the lips of people they will never meet, even if the price is not fame, but infamy.
Starry Eyes is based on the old Hollywood legends of satanic cults/Illuminati made up of a select, chosen few, who have traded their souls for a forever in celluloid .From Jane Mansfield to Miley ‘put your tongue back in your mouth’Cyrus, the occult symbolism, and links to Freemasonry have always gone hand in hand with the glamour and seedy side of making movies.
Sarah, a desperate young ingénue, downtrodden and at an all time low, is given the opportunity of a lifetime, at an extreme price, and learns that all that glitters, is definitely not gold.
Starry Eyes is a truly excellent film. The juxtaposition of the modern pressures on young actors, and the sumptuous temptations of living forever through film, is sometimes breathtaking. It’s grimy and sexy, dark and creepy, and has style by the bucket load. The acting is top notch, and feels like a brilliant back to basics, horror film, the secret societies of those hills .with the big letters can really be proud of.
Splendid and sordid, this truly feels like an instant classic, that will stand the test of time. And if the film-makers have made a Faustian pact to achieve it, I feel they definitely made the right choice

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Tomboys (2009)

In the UK a premier league football player has just been found guilty of sexual activity with a fifteen year old school girl, and is facing the prospect of up to ten years in prison. Adam Johnson, an over privileged and over paid sporting hero in my local area, used his status to take advantage of an impressionable teenager, got caught and his fall from grace has been spread all over the media. Every detail picked over, questioned and debated among those who have nothing to do but rake over old coals.
Now the law is clear on these matters, sexual activity with a minor is illegal. Not to mention the morality of a man in his twenties taking advantage of a girl who wasn’t even old enough to leave school, never mind anything else, but that’s another can of gummy worms. He’s going to face jail time most certainly, but how serious a sentence is yet to be determined.
Until then, his sister is protesting his innocence and trying to get his ‘fans’ (those who still remain) to change their social media profile pictures to those of the convicted paedophile, in a Paris attacks style ‘Je Suis Children’ kind of campaign, and ill fated as her attempts to gain support for her brother (including an attempt at a protest poem which was kindly put by this blogger, cringeworthy), there are some horrendous accusations about the victim being bandied about, by grown adults who have obviously never been the victims of assault or abuse.
Katie Hopkins, the UK’s answer to anthrax, Ebola and the bubonic plague combined; branded the victim a ”slag”, claiming Johnson was just stupid and undeserving of jail time. She’s been labelled a money grabber because she is going to take her abuser to court for compensation, something that she could get from Victim Support, but seeing as though Johnson is currently residing in a house worth point something million, then I say, why the hell shouldn’t he pay through the nose for the trauma he has caused?
Tease, whore, slut, prostitute and many other uninspiring insults are all words that have been used against this girl, and one woman actually commented that if she was her child she wouldn’t have allowed her to go ‘telling tales’ to the police. I mean, really. What kind of society do we live in where a child victim of sexual assault is branded with a scarlet letter and the male assailant is given some benefit of the doubt because he could kick a ball well?
The definition of a victim is someone who comes to harm, either physically or psychologically, as a result of an accident, crime, or event such as a tsunami or other disaster. A victim doesn’t ‘ask for it’, by dressing or acting a certain way, by flirting, by texting, by getting into a car with someone or any other supposed come on; a victim is a victim because there is a problem with the person who thinks it is OK to take advantage of someone, to inflict hurt or damage.
If someone is not old enough to legally give her consent, than a moral and law abiding person can not accept it. It is that cut and dry. Johnson even googled ‘age of consent’ while he was grooming the girl via text. Therefore he checked, found the answer and tried to get the under-age girl to have sex with him anyway.
He may have been stupid, but prison is full of stupid people, and that is no excuse for an over entitled, over paid man to use his position in society to ignore the law and think he can get away with it. He is not a victim in this scenario, but clearly he is still not fully aware of the gravity of his actions, as he’s been throwing huge all night parties at his luxury pad while he awaits his fate, which doesn’t really scream remorse; while his victim has, at her tender age had her life ruined, by both his actions and the case’s notoriety.
Tomboys is an Australian horror that explores the mentality that being a victim, or the stigma of that word can have on survivors of sexual assault. Five girls brought together by a shared theme, a couple of them by a shared attacker, take matters into their own hands in the pursuit of justice, while still trying to figure out what justice means to each of them in turn.
While an original spin on the rape/revenge theme, and with a dirty, gritty grindhouse vibe, Tomboys has such potential to be something great, but sadly fell flat just short of that in my eyes. From the very beginning I was interested in the characters, while still being intrigued of how far their journey of retribution would go; however the clunky nature of the script and some less than stellar performances from some of the women left me feeling more disappointed than anything else. The constant use of the term ‘sexual assault’ in place of the word rape felt clunky, annoying and out of place with these characters. Certain reactions to situations in the film were extremely artificial and just lacked any credibility in terms of human nature, and by the end of the film I was left feeling frustrated with the scripting completely.
That being said, it is a distinctly feminist film, and though there is an ongoing debate about sexism in horror, it is films like this that prove that it is still one of the only genres of film that empowered women reign supreme. Horror women are capable of being victims, but it is always possible for them to take back their power, to survive, and to be their own retribution. They don’t wait to be saved, because they are capable of saving themselves, and that is one of the best lessons any person can be taught.

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Changeling (2008)

 

The law is something people like to think is perfect. If someone is guilty of a crime, then the premise of the judicial system dictates that that person will be given a fair trial, by a jury of their peers, and given a punishment in fitting with the crime.
Unfortunately, Lady Justice is painted blind and the system she represents is anything but fair. We should deal in facts, science, and evidence, and be unbiased in pursuit of the truth, but people are fallible, biased, and susceptible to the influence of others.
Evidence can be tampered with, humans make mistakes (intended or not), computer error occurs, and politics, personal agendas and prejudice are all possible factors in the outcome of a case, and the consequences resulting from it.
We all have our own take on morality, and as we have seen countless times, those morals have an incredible impact on the people around us, and how we are perceived. Science has proven that we make a judgement on an individual within 30 seconds of making their acquaintance. We all judge on looks, whether we do it subconsciously or not; so there is a reason why Piers Morgan causes me to feel bilious at the mere sight of his picture.
Making a Murderer is the hot potato burning everyone’s mouth at the moment and we all have an opinion on Steven Avery’s case. Most of us are missing the point of the documentary entirely though, for it is not about picking sides, or even about the man’s innocence or guilt; it is about the fact that Avery’s case was tainted from the initial arrest all of those years ago, and that he was never given the one thing that every citizen, no matter their crime, is entitled to, and that is a fair trial.
The Innocence Project, and other organisations handle hundreds of cases like this every year, and sadly they don’t get as much media attention when they aren’t featured on a must watch tv show. Many of these prisoners are on death row, victims of miscarriages of justice, lives and families irreparably torn apart, victims of racial, societal or sexual prejudices or just plain corruption in the system. Things are not always cut and dry, and one should remember this when we consider the morality of a death sentence in such a flawed system.
We can release a prisoner, but we can not bring that prisoner back to life.
The Wineville Chicken Coop murders was one of the most infamous crimes of the 1920’s. Young boys, abused and murdered by a young man named Gordon Stewart Northcott, whose mother helped to cover up his dark secrets, and a police force who cared more about public image than justice.
The Changeling is a the true story of Christine Collins, a single woman, with a good career, whose life was destroyed by the disappearance of her son Walter. The police brought a boy back to her and declared his prodigal return. His mother, was forced to take the child home, though she protested the glaring fact that this child was not hers. The police, not wanting to admit their mistake, accused Collins of not wanting the child back, of being a bad mother, and after she continued to ask the whereabouts of her own little boy, was put in an asylum. After all, she was a woman in a world where men had all the power, and she was up against the true might of the L.A police department.

Christine Collins went through hell, and was eventually vindicated when the hideous crimes of Northcott were uncovered and his mother Sarah, confessed to Walter’s murder, although sadly the boy’s remains were never found. Christine was awarded compensation against Police Captain J.J Jones, but never received the money.
Clint Eastwood’s retelling of this horrifying period in the Los Angeles justice department’s history, is surprisingly engaging and beautifully shot. Angelina Jolie does Collins a great service, by portraying the strength this woman showed in the face of tragic and insurmountable odds. This was a story that needed to be told, to remind us that ugly things happen, and the endings don’t always end up happy.
It is beautifully acted, and harrowing. Eastwood does an excellent job of reminding us that true evil is insidiously mundane, and can lie in even the safest of places. Pressures of politics and prejudices, are far more scary than an axe wielding maniac, because at least with the maniac, you can see him coming.
There is still some doubt surrounding the fate of Walter, and many of the other victims of Northcott, and he teased Christine Collins with promises of confession of the child’s murder until his execution, though she still held out hope that her son was alive until her own death in 1964. The murders were so infamous that Wineville changed it’s name to Mira Loma in 1930, to in some way escape it’s bloody notoriety.

What’s in a name though, when there are still skeletons to be unearthed …

Posted in 00's horror, child murder, critique, film and media, horror, mental illness, murder, Noughties horror, opinion, paedophile, pop culture, psychological horror, Serial Killers, thriller, True Crime, True Horror, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bring my Baby Back (For Christmas) – Poeina

At a time of year when we are oversaturated with schmaltz, good will to all men, and enough sweetness to put a diabetic into a coma, then a little bit of horror in your stocking always feels like a welcome relief by mid December.

For those of you sick of the Christmas videos normally churned out by the music channels, this little seasonal ditty by Poeina, is right up your street. While it starts off, echoing the usual festive fare it happily turns into a baubled bloodbath worthy of some of the better indie horror films.
The FX are top notch and quite sickening enough for most horror fans, nicely edited and with just the right amount of tongue in cheek for most people, it got even me, most cynical of hearts, feeling halfway festive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUW0dQfbSZ4&feature=youtu.be

 

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Expressway to Your Skull (2014)


Psychedelia and horror go hand in hand like Fox news and an inability to accept white people can be terrorists too.


The psychedelic horror is colourful, and distorts reality, often with mind bending effects and chilling absurdity, that make cult cinematic experiences at their very best.


Dario Argento, David Lynch, and David Cronenburg are masters of the genre, bringing us repulsion with finesse and tall tales with a skewed view. The Shining, Suspiria, Eraserhead, and even the recent overlooked classic Reeker, are all prime examples of kaleidoscopic FX that give the viewer an almost hallucinogenic experience.


When someone asks you to review a film for them, you immediately feel apprehensive. Especially when asked for an honest opinion. Although, I have no problem being honest (as those who know me will happily attest to), I don’t like crushing dreams or hurting feelings when the person in question has done nothing to deserve it. Especially when their art clearly has had so much work put into it.


I was kindly sent a private link to a small independent film, called Expressway to Your Skull, but within minutes my apprehension lifted, because I was immediately engaged and within minutes enjoying its style.


The film follows a young 20 something couple with a complicated, and cash strapped existence, who escape on a spontaneous road trip, camping out in the woods. After an unsettling encounter with a local, the two realise that rather than getting away from their problems, they’ve run into something far worse.


Although it was described to me as a psychedelic horror, I don’t think it’s a film that can be pigeon holed in such a way, as it can fit into the backwoods/city versus country genre, supernatural horror, and even has a creepy thriller quality to it.


Paced well, with a decent, believable cast, Michael Okum’s directing début was a confident and strong film that thoroughly impressed me. It had a clear, defined plot and realistic, yet engaging script, and although there were some faults in sound quality in places, I think that there is incredible potential in what I’ve seen.


Originality in horror is sorely lacking, and what Okum has managed to achieve is an interesting twist on an old standard, that is both entertaining and well executed.


The film was released by Brain Damage Films on DVD November 3rd and VOD on December 1st, so if you are a fan of the independent horror, I highly recommend you watch this.

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The Objective (2008)

The 11th November is Remembrance or Armistice Day ,is a day used to remember the war dead, and since 1921 the Red Poppy has become a symbol of this for people to wear around this time.

Unfortunately, more and more this symbol has been misappropriated, used by the government and military as a justification of war, and even a symbol used by fascists wielded over those deemed ‘not British enough’, spreading falsehoods about how Muslims want poppies banned (even though Muslims fought for the allied troops during WWI and II, and continue to fight for the British and US military forces to this day).

More and more the glorification of war has become prevalent during the Remembrance Day celebrations, with what should be a sober and reflective event, being used as way to entice young people to join the military, giving them too the chance to become heroes.

What is never mentioned in these ”celebrations” is that conscription is just a fancy way of saying forced, as historically ordinary men and young boys were suited and booted, given guns and sent to be cannon fodder. The men who fought during the World Wars, were put in horrendous situations, forced to become killers overnight, and came back changed, with no support.
After the initial celebrations of their return, everyone was expected to smoothly readjust back to life, even though in some cases people had been away years, were returning with limbs missing, or other life changing illnesses, many with severe PTSD (which was yet to be understood), and the government and military washed their hands of them, as they had served their purpose, their usefulness long gone.
Even now, veterans come home and have to rely on charities like Help the Heroes or The British Legion to house them, provide counselling, and help them to reintegrate back into a civilian society. This is the job of the military and the government to pick up the pieces of these men and women, not the rest of us, for you cannot promote your own agenda in such a skewed way, and spit people out like some bloodthirsty machine, when the ripples of this are so far reaching, and affect so many.
In 1914 The Women’s Co Operative Guild’s congress stated that these ‘civilised nations should never again resort to the terrible and ineffectual method of war for the settlement of international disputes’ and began searching for a symbol to show that they stood for pacifism and were against the futility of war. In 1933 they came up with the white poppy, which they began making and selling, donating the money made to conscientious objectors around Europe, who were the victims of violence and abuse for their brave anti war stance.
In 1936 the Peace Pledge Union adopted this symbol as a symbol of the peace union, and began using the white poppy in their own alternative Remembrance Day events.
The White Poppy and The Purple Poppy (used to remember the animal victims of war) have become increasingly popular in recent years, as people have become more questioning of motives behind war, and the fact that the Red Poppy is becoming compulsory rather than a choice, due to the strong propaganda of the media, government and military.
The British Legion over the past few years have accepted money from one of the biggest arms dealers in the world Lockheed Martin, and in deed this year one of their Remembrance Day events is sponsored by them. Considering that around 90% of all deaths in war are civilian, I find this to be in extreme poor taste, and is one of the many reasons I choose to forgo the Red for the White Poppy.
Wearing the White Poppy or indeed the Purple, does not mean that I do not respect the losses of the military in these terrible conflicts, it merely is a symbol that we should remember ALL war dead, those that fought, and those that were part of the holocausts, genocides and were by caught stray bullets, land mines or bomb blasts along the way.
The British government spent £50,000000 on the Remembrance Day events, when we are living in a country with a rising use of food banks, growing homeless population, and a steel industry destroyed leaving thousands unemployed just in time for Christmas.

We don’t need money for reflection, because the lessons of the past tend to get lost in pomp and ceremony, for these gaudy displays are a mere misdirection of the current conflicts, and the shadowy motivations and alliances of our own leaders.
Of course, must never forget the past and the sacrifices made, but not at the expense of our future.
‘Lest we forget to move forward from the bloodshed’
From the director of the Blair Witch Project, The Objective is a film about a group of American soldiers in Afghanistan recruited by a CIA agent on the premise of finding a holy man he needs to interview. As the men are lured deeper into the dessert, they realise that all is not as it seems, and their mission is something far more dangerous than they were given to believe.
I’d describe The Objective as Sci-Fi Military Horror, which sounds like an excellent start for any film, but unfortunately, it just doesn’t pan out all that well for me.
To begin with, Jonas Bell, the actor who plays the main character Ben Keynes, and happens to be the narrator. Sadly, he can not enunciate to save his life, and mumbles his way through the majority of the film, which forced me to strain my ears every time he spoke. I also found him to be stiff, humourless and completely two dimensional, and his lack of animation just didn’t fit for this kind of film.
Slow, clunky, and honestly pretty boring for the most part, it felt like two thirds of clumsily lighting a firework, just for the thing to fizzle and spit a few times as the grand finale.
This could have been a great little horror, it has a solid script, with an original plot, but with the monotone narration, unconvincing execution and an ending that left you unfulfilled and frustrated that you let yourself get that far, I would say B+ for effort, but it didn’t do it for me.
The clichéd Apocalypse Now voice-over, was incredibly irritating and coupled with crappy FX, and a lack of humour, I’d recommend giving this one a complete swerve.

Apocalypse No. No Thank you.

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